When the next version of Windows comes out, every computer loaded with it will be infringing on your rights — you shouldn’t stand for it.

Along with every tape, compact disc or LP is the right to make an archival copy of it. This is called fair use, the general idea behind which is that you can make a copy, should you lose the first or should it be destroyed.

However, thanks to the efforts of the Recording Industry Association of America, the Motion Pictures Association of America and various other institutions, there is a movement to prevent the archiving of digital media on one’s computer.

An ever-growing number of audio compact discs already have copy protection on them. These audio discs, not allowed to bear the official name or logo “compact disc digital audio” are engineered not to play in computers. As an unfortunate effect of this some discs don’t play in old compact disc players and play with “pops” and “cracks” in the audio on some cutting edge players.

A list of copy-protected compact discs can be found at www.fatchucks.com.

Microsoft’s software initiative for Digital Rights Management — formerly called Palladium, now called “next-generation secure computing base” — will prevent copyrighted files from being moved off a computer. It will also prevent moving files onto a computer without proper authorization.

In short, this means that many files without copyright information will not be allowed on the computer and those that are allowed can’t come from another computer.

As I previously stated, this infringes on our rights. Take this situation — I buy a CD and put the music on my hard drive as a backup. I move, and in the process, lose my CD collection. At some point afterward, I buy a new computer. I want to move my music from one computer to the other. I will likely be unable to do that.

I do not argue that mass file sharing is good, or even remotely legal when copyrighted music is being traded. However, when companies, trying to prevent this from happening, infringe on our rights, it becomes an issue.

One popular way of storing copyrighted material is familiar to many — a Digital Video Recorder. This records TV for later viewing and is sold by Sony as TiVo and SonicBlue as ReplayTV. They tout the ability to “pause live TV,” and record shows automatically.

The video is recorded onto a hard drive in the unit and it is controlled by a remote. On this remote control is a button that allows one to skip ahead or behind 30 seconds in the programming.

Turner Broadcasting CEO Jamie Keller said, “Because of the ad skips … it’s theft. Any time you skip a commercial … you’re actually stealing the programming.”

In further conversations, other executives said that changing channels during commercial breaks is theft, but conceded that going to the bathroom during the commercial would be allowed.

With computers becoming more integrated with other devices in our household and Digital Rights Management beginning to proliferate, the day when the television doesn’t let you change channels during a commercial or the radio insisting that you stay on one station for a minimum of a half hour may not be far away.

As technology advances, there will be more breakthroughs and with that, more restraints. It is possible that we may not be able to play music on computers some day or even change channels on a television.

To prevent that day from coming we need to let it be known now that it is not acceptable. Take a stand on your digital rights.

Snitkoff is a freshman and can be reached at bsnitkoff@campustimes.org.



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